Theater Review: HOME (On Tour at The Broad Stage)

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by Harvey Perr on March 7, 2020

in Theater-Los Angeles,Tours

A HOME RUN

What do you think of when you think of home? Is it the place where you were born? Is it where you are living now? Is it where you followed your growth by measuring yourself against one of its walls? Is it the home you built? Is it the home you inherited from people you’ve never even met? Does every home become a haunted house because you share it with ghosts? Ghosts of strangers? Perhaps even ghosts of yourselves, ghosts of who you were when you were younger, ghosts of those you’ve loved? Is it where imagined or real bedroom farces took place? Is it where you celebrated birthdays and weddings and wakes? Is it your home away from home? Is it where your dreams lie or where your nightmares began? Is it a nest? Or is it an unmanageable mess? Is it all these things? Is it more? Is it less?

If you haven’t thought of any of this, Geoff Sobelle has. And what he has imagined has become a transformative, magical, and rapturously life-affirming performance piece called, appropriately enough, HOME, and it’s been touring the continents for three years and could conceivably continue as long as there are theater audiences hungry for the unimaginable. If there is anything Sobelle missed, it is that this home has no battered wives, no axe murderers lurking in the shadows, nothing that would destroy the image of home as a haven, safe or otherwise. And that is fine with me. There is something absolutely right about making you feel good about where you may have lived at some point of your life and where the messiness of life defined your home as much as your memories have. It is rare indeed to see good will merge with the truth.

To describe in detail what occurs in HOME would only spoil the fun of experiencing its every juicy twist and turn, but there are moments when you won’t believe your eyes, but such moments pass as if they are commonplace which has the odd effect of making even greater impact than if they had been lingered on to merely impress you. Even the act of constructing a house to create a home and building on it as time rolls forward and then tearing it down seems natural and unforced, despite the complicatedness of the process itself.

Sobelle may be the genius behind HOME, but the entire piece is an act of theatrical wizardry and human interaction and there isn’t a single artist involved in the project who doesn’t share in its brilliance. Lee Sunday Evans has staged it with tight control which nevertheless gives the impression of being casual and loose-limbed. Steven Dufala’s set is magnificent, but where would it be without its carpenters on the ready? Christopher Kuhl’s lighting knows precisely where the light is and where the dark is. Brandon Wolcott’s sound and Karen Young’s costumes are equally tuned into the overall atmosphere. And we should mention David Neumann’s choreography because it isn’t just the dancing but the entire sense of physical movement which thrusts the performers in constant collaboration with each other.

And every actor – Sobelle, Sophie Bortolussi, Justin Rose, Jennifer Kidwell, Ching Valdes-Aran, Arlo Petty – brings commitment and a palpable sense of the vagaries of living together to the proceedings. And Elvis Perkins performs his own songs tenderly; lyrically, they give HOME context, and, musically, they establish a complex series of moods.

HOME is one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences that pop up every so often to remind us of the infinite possibilities of theater. It inspires as much gratitude as it does sheer pleasure.

photos by Sea Sloat

HOME
The Eli & Edythe Broad Stage, 1310 11th St. in Santa Monica

ends on March 8, 2020
for tickets, call 310.434.3200 or visit The Broad Stage
for more dates and cities, visit HOME

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